I previously wrote about influencer backlash and how some influencers or ‘wanna be' influencers tarnish the industry.
Most influencers and most of the influencers I work with, contribute to society, they don't take from and ruin it. They have something valuable to offer. Their work is a sustainable business. Though it might be enjoyable (not all parts) it costs money, time and has expertise.
Except maybe this guy, but he shows up consistently and basically produces his own life as a reality show where people pay him so they can catch the next episode. I have no issue with that. I have issue with others, like the examples in these headlines…
- Beach Club Owner Rips into Freeloading Instagram ‘Influencers'
- Influencer Fraud Costs Companies Millions
- Instagram Influencers Have Caused The California Poppy Fields To Shut Down
However, the “influencers” in these headlines and those who are unprofessional (never worked a real job in their life) are not the norm.
I asked influencer Rachel Farnsworth for permission to republish her rant about what an influencer is. You can find Rachel at The Stay at Home Chef blog or on Facebook. She is a leading Facebook video producer and she and her husband work on this business full time.
Thank you to Rachel for allowing me to share this and for her contribution. She is a frequent speaker and is so open and transparent about what it means to be an influencer and as such has been a great influence on me and my business. I love what she has to say.
If you've ever wondered what it takes to be an influencer who makes real money at it, read or share this post. Share it with people who think it's what they want to do for a living but may not understand what goes into it.
Listen, I get it. You think the job of an “influencer” is a joke. It’s easy to see why so many people think it’s all a big joke with headlines like these. You may think all these “influencers” do are take pictures of themselves (or their food) and post it on social media and bam, they are famous for being famous with no real value, skills, or contribution to society.
Just look at the comments section on any of these articles. It’s a commonly held belief that “influencers” are entitled little brats who don’t do any real work and just lounge around all day, expect to travel the world for free, and are completely self absorbed.
I am an influencer. Let me tell you what it really entails.
I work about 360 days per year. Nowadays, I work an average of 40-60 hours per week which is considerably less than the 80-100 hour work weeks I used to pull in order to build my business. My business has 3 full-time employees and 2 part-time contractors. It costs me about $300,000 a year to run which includes equipment costs, website maintenance, employee salaries, hiring contractors, supplies, legal fees, payroll services, and other miscellaneous costs associated with running a small business. We run it as lean as possible.
Skills I’ve had to develop to be successful include: professional food photography, food videography, writing, editing, website coding, search engine optimization, social media strategy, advertising and marketing, acting, contract negotiations, and more. I have to be proficient in all of these areas just to stay afloat. It takes considerable amounts of time and money to stay current in all of these areas and they all require constant improvement.
My industry is extremely competitive. Over 2 million blog posts are published every day, 95 million Instagram posts per day, 5 billion YouTube videos watched every day, and every 60 seconds on Facebook: 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded. If I want to succeed I have to figure out how to get my content noticed amidst all of that. Every. Single. Day.
I’m pretty used to people not understanding what it is I do for a living. Friends and neighbors mostly give me funny looks. Many think it is a joke. People aren’t even afraid to say that to my face. I often hear comments like, “what a fun hobby!” or even “it’s so nice you have such a cute little job to keep you busy.” They don’t know what it means to be an influencer because no one has ever told them. All they have are the headlines.
You may laugh at these so called “influencers” and wonder who it is that is following them and being influenced. I hate to break it to you, but if you have ever used the internet, you’ve been influenced at some point. And you may not even realize it. You were just entertained by that particular family, you just find that guy funny, you just used her recipes, you just used their guide for that last trip, you just used her printable for your kid’s birthday party invitation, you just used her hair tutorial, you just read his review of that one product….. that, my friends, is influence.
Hopefully this gives you a little insight beyond the headlines as to what being an influencer really means. If you still think it sounds like a joke, I’d encourage you to give a go at it. Let’s see how you do!
It looks like influencer marketing needs some help with reputation management. We can use more disclosure and authenticity. Brands can help by setting policies up front with expectations in writing and need to carefully vet who they work with. Just like in any industry where there's any significant money involved, there are fakes and scammers.
If you're an influencer, I'd love to hear your perspective on what it means in your life/business in the comments below.